A thing I was known for in the Before Times was my lipstick game. I love a bold lip, especially in red. During these last few years of mask-wearing, I missed my lipstick collection.

Now that masking is starting to ease up, I’ve been venturing back into red lipstick in situations where I’m dressing up a little. I get a lot of comments on it, especially from women with fairer complexions like mine who think that if I can pull off the look, maybe they can too.

I firmly believe there’s a red for everyone, but half the battle is feeling confident in it. So here’s my advice on bringing red lipstick into your life:

  1. Choose a gateway red. While there’s a red for everyone, not every red lipstick will look equally good on everyone. Start with a more neutral red and once you’re used to it, you’ll start to have a sense for whether you want to move into warmer or cooler toned reds. I recommend a couple different, neutral-toned ones for red lip beginners:
    NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella: This is a true neutral red, and the matte, pencil formula gives a more casual look, so you don’t feel like your face is overdone in a more casual setting.
    Bésame Cosmetics Red Velvet 1946: This is a bullet lipstick with a satin finish, so has a more dressy feeling. Bésame specializes in vintage-inspired cosmetics, and this is a shade that was popular in 1946. In fact, it’s the color Hayley Atwell wore as Peggy Carter in the Agent Carter TV series. This was my personal gateway red.

2. Practice wearing it. If you’re used to more neutral or closer to your own lips’ colors, wearing red is going to feel like a bit of a shock. Pick one up and wear it around the house so you can get used to glimpsing it in mirrors while you’re going about your business. Take selfies and send them to your friends so they can gas you up.

3. Balance the lip with your other makeup. So look, there are no rules in makeup, but there is theory. And one of my theories is that you can do a bold eye, or you can do a bold lip, but if you try to do both you’ll look like a clown. If you’re doing a red lip, keep your other makeup simple; I stick to a very neutral, natural eye with eyeliner so my eyes don’t get lost, and maybe a little bit of highlighter. Red lips are going to play up any redness in your skin, so I always make sure to even out my skin tone a bit when wearing red.

But if you’re wondering what my current favorite red is? It would have to be Petal Bouche Matte in Amour Fou from Violette_FR. It’s a blue-toned red that looks like the texture of a rose petal. It’s a highly pigmented liquid lipstick, which makes it a little bit challenging to apply, and it’s very bold, so I don’t necessarily suggest going from neutral lip to this right away. But it’s gorgeous and I think it would look good on almost anyone.

A red lip after a long day of people-ing.